Dear Miss Manners: My 15-year-old son is hearing-impaired and wears hearing aids, which are, by design, hard to see. He is very polite when he asks people to repeat themselves when he cannot hear them, and he explains he is hearing-impaired.

A couple of times, people have questioned this. One time he was chastised for "joking," and I finally had to step in and say, as nicely as possible, that he is, in fact, hearing-impaired and has been since he was 2.

I am not with my son all the time. I am not sure what to tell him to say to people without sounding rude or having to take his hearing aids out to show them as proof, which I do not feel is appropriate or necessary. Although he finds it annoying, he expects people to react that way sometimes.

Gentle reader: Your son needs to master a two-step response. In step one, he re-explains the situation with convincing seriousness but without rancor. Waving around medical devices of any kind at this stage might be effective, but is certainly not dignified. Mentioning the fact that it has been this way since he was 2 should be convincing.

He should then pause while the information sinks in. Only when the listener realizes what she has done is it time for step two: assuring her that he understands her mistake, as the disability is not obvious.

Miss Manners is sorry to say that it is likely your son will have many opportunities to practice.

'Unhear' rude comment

Dear Miss Manners: If you have a guest in your home and you overhear a negative comment, how are you to react for the duration of the guest's stay?

Gentle reader: That will depend upon the nature of the comment.

Miss Manners recommends pretending not to hear the ungenerous comment about the salmon, as it was not intended to be overheard. The unmistakably uncivil comment to, or about, the hostess, however, will require a period of frosty politeness of length in proportion to the severity of the rudeness.

Disclose the details

Dear Miss Manners: A friend of mine invited me to a social outing. I said I would go, but he didn't tell me until the last minute that it was also a singles group. I completely disagree with singles groups, but I agreed to go before he told me that.

What's your thought about people not disclosing all the information about a social event when inviting someone, and would it be rude for me to now say I don't want to go?

Gentle reader: Insistent as is Miss Manners that invitations, once accepted, must be honored, the rule is not absolute. If the bride changes the date — whether due to uncertainly about the catering or the groom — guests are also given an opportunity to re-evaluate. Miss Manners extends the same exemption to your situation.

"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to her website,